If you watched the playoffs back in May and June, you can see that the Denver Nuggets need depth at the center position. While there’s been talk of working a deal for Jeff Foster (and I like that possibility), I think Kurt Thomas represents an excellent opportunity to grab a championship-caliber veteran player without giving up much of anything (a.k.a Steven Hunter – no offense).
Here’s what I like about Denver trading for Kurt Thomas (aside from the fact that Thomas is a better player than Steven Hunter):
- Thomas is an excellent defender with veteran savvy. He’s not as quick as he used to be, but he understands position and he’s a big body. He’s more than good enough to help lock down the middle on the second unit, and he’s still fast enough to guard some of the NBA’s slower bigs (Yao, Tim Duncan, and Shaq) for a few minutes per night.
- Thomas has great shooting range for a center. Thomas can step back just past the free throw line and knock down jumpers all day long. Denver only has one big with that shot in his repertoire (Nene), and he already plays a lot of minutes. [To be honest, I think Thomas is probably a better shooter than Nene.]
- He’s a good rebounder. He pulled down one rebound every 3.5 minutes last year in San Antonio – that’s better than Nene (1 rebound every 4.2 minutes last season), much better than K-Mart (5.3 minutes per) and only slightly less than Chris Anderson (3.3 minutes per).
- He fits well at PF or C. He’s got the length to play center but he’s not so big that he can’t play power forward. If and/or when Nene, K-Mart, or Chris Anderson miss a game, Thomas can step in and cover.
- He’s easy to trade again later. If Denver decides to make a trade again around mid-season, there isn’t a team in the league that wouldn’t be interested in Kurt Thomas. Not only is he the consummate professional that helps teams win, but he’s probably going to be interested in a buyout if he lands on a team with no prospects. If Denver works out a deal with a team headed for the lottery, Thomas is more of an asset than Steven Hunter because Thomas would likely be interested in a buyout.
I’m guessing that Milwaukee would entertain a swap of Hunter for Thomas. Hunter’s salary is slightly lower, and going forward Hunter would be a better long-term prospect (Hunter is still relatively young and might succeed in the right surroundings). If Denver offered a little cash to go along with Hunter, they’d have a serviceable backup for Nene with very little invested.
Besides, I don’t see Thomas wanting to stay in Milwaukee. He’ll be 37 when the season starts, and I doubt he’s interested in coming off the bench for a team that would be lucky to make the playoffs.
What do you think – could Denver work out a trade of Hunter + cash for Kurt Thomas? Should they?